OMNA TIGRAY – APRIL 2022 SITUATION REPORT
It has been over 17 months since the Ethiopian government began waging a genocidal war against millions of people in Tigray. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands have lost their lives, with millions more displaced from their homes. The genocidal war on Tigray has additionally entailed the use of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) as a weapon of war, wide spread destruction, and the weaponization of starvation. Due to the man-made famine engineered by the Ethiopian and Eritrean regimes, millions of people in Tigray are starving to death. In March 2022, the Guardian reported that themalnutrition rate for children under five has risen to 13 percent, while the rate for pregnant and lactating women is at a staggering 60 percent. Out of desperation, people in Tigray have resorted to selling off livestock, cutting household spending on essentials like healthcare, and most devastatingly, begging for food. The famine in Tigray directly results from the de facto blockade imposed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, which has resulted in less than 10 percent of the needed food aid reaching Tigray in the last eight months.
On March 24, 2022, the Ethiopian government declared what it professed to bean indefinite truce. While any declarations that can ensure the delivery of lifesaving assistance to millions of people who have been blocked off from receiving aid is encouraging, it should be treated with extreme caution, given the Abiy administration’s repeated practice of signaling its readiness for peace while actively waging war. It is to be remembered that upon being driven out of most parts of Tigray by the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) in June 2021, the Abiy regime attempted to portray its military defeat as a humanitarian ceasefire. Using this fictitious humanitarian ceasefire as a cover for the international community, the regime enacted a brutal siege, cutting off essential services including electricity, banking, internet, and prevented the transportation of food, cash, and fuel into Tigray.
While the Ethiopian government has the power to facilitate unhindered humanitarian access, it has refused to do so. The regime successfully prevented aid trucks from entering Tigray from mid-December 2021 to March 2022.Moreover, diplomats and aid workers have reported that the Ethiopian government had made commitments to ease restrictions on relief convoys entering Tigray at the start of 2022, which it has evidently failed to uphold. In February 2022, a convoy of 20 trucks was granted permission to travel to Tigray, but this convoy did not reach Tigray until March 2022. UN aid agencies estimate that 100 trucks carrying food, non-food items, and fuel, are required to deliver the required aid into Tigray every day.
Time and again, the Ethiopian government has deceived the international community by making public declarations of peace while pursuing policies that have directly led to the deaths of tens of thousands in Tigray. As such, the international community must not be fooled by empty rhetoric but use the Ethiopian government’s declaration to demand action and ensure that humanitarian aid reaches the over 6 million people in Tigray who are in desperate need.
Given Russia’s invasion and brutal war in Ukraine in recent weeks, much of the world’s attention has shifted to events in Europe. The brutalities that the people of Ukraine are being subjected to, including a violent invasion, indiscriminate attacks on civilians, and a humanitarian siege, are painfully familiar to those following the war on Tigray. Like Abiy, Vladimir Putin is carrying out a devastating campaign with absolutely no regard for the international laws and norms that govern war and is pursuing a strategy that threatens the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. While the humanitarian and geopolitical significance of the war in Ukraine cannot be understated, it is vital for the international community to continue keeping its eyes on and exerting pressure to abate the similar humanitarian catastrophe still unfolding in Tigray.